What is Special Education?

Forest City Regional School District



The Special Education Department provides programs and services in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and PA Chapter 14 Special Education Programs for students with disabilities. A child with a disability means a child who as the result of a multidisciplinary evaluation is determined to meet the criteria in one or more of the following categories.  Eligibility of School Aged Special Education is determined through a two prong process of identifying a student with one or more of the following categories, as well as determined if the child is in need of special education or a related service.  

Related services are designed to enable the child to participate in or access his or her program of special education. Examples of related services are speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, nursing services, audiologist services, counseling, and family training.

The following definitions apply to the 13 categories of exceptionality as defined by IDEA:

Autism means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age 3, that adversely affects a child's educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. The term does not apply if a child's educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has an emotional disturbance.

Deaf-blindness means concomitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness.

Deafness means a hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, that adversely affects a child's educational performance.

Emotional disturbance means a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child's educational performance:

1.     An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors.

2.     An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.

3.     Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances.

4.     A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.

5.     A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems. The term includes schizophrenia. The term does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance.

Hearing impairment means an impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child's educational performance but that is not included under the definition of deafness in this section.

Intellectual Disability means significantly sub average general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period, that adversely affects a child's educational performance.

Multiple disabilities means concomitant impairments (such as mental retardation-blindness, mental retardation-orthopedic impairment, etc.), the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments. The term does not include deaf-blindness.

Orthopedic impairment means a severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a child's educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by congenital anomaly (e.g., clubfoot, absence of some member, etc.), impairments caused by disease (e.g., poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis, etc.), and impairments from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures).

Other health impairment means having limited strength, vitality or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that-

1.     Is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, and sickle cell anemia; and

2.     Adversely affects a child's educational performance.

Specific learning disability means:

To determine that a child has a specific learning disability, the school district or intermediate unit shall:

   (1)  Address whether the child does not achieve adequately for the child’s age or meet State-approved grade-level standards in one or more of the following areas, when provided with learning experiences and scientifically based instruction appropriate for the child’s age or State-approved grade-level standards:

     (i)   Oral expression.

     (ii)   Listening comprehension.

     (iii)   Written expression.

     (iv)   Basic reading skill.

     (v)   Reading fluency skills.

     (vi)   Reading comprehension.

     (vii)   Mathematics calculation.

     (viii)   Mathematics problem solving.

   (2)  Use one of the following procedures:

     (i)   A process based on the child’s response to scientific, research-based intervention, which includes documentation that:

       (A)   The student received high quality instruction in the general education setting.

       (B)   Research-based interventions were provided to the student.

       (C)   Student progress was regularly monitored.

     (ii)   A process that examines whether a child exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses, relative to intellectual ability as defined by a severe discrepancy between intellectual ability and achievement, or relative to age or grade.

   (3)  Have determined that its findings under this section are not primarily the result of:

     (i)   A visual, hearing or orthopedic disability.

     (ii)   Mental retardation.

     (iii)   Emotional disturbance.

     (iv)   Cultural factors.

     (v)   Environmental or economic disadvantage.

     (vi)   Limited English proficiency.

   (4)  Ensure that underachievement in a child suspected of having a specific learning disability is not due to lack of appropriate instruction in reading or mathematics by considering documentation that:

     (i)   Prior to, or as a part of, the referral process, the child was provided scientifically-based instruction in regular education settings, delivered by qualified personnel, as indicated by observations of routine classroom instruction.

     (ii)   Repeated assessments of achievement were conducted at reasonable intervals, reflecting formal assessment of student progress during instruction, which was provided to the child’s parents.

Speech or language impairment means a communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, or a voice impairment, that adversely affects a child's educational performance.

Traumatic brain injury means an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects a child's educational performance. The term applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem-solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psychosocial behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech. The term does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or to brain injuries induced by birth trauma.

Visual impairment including blindness means an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child's educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness.

While a continuum of placement options are available, consideration of the Least Restrictive Environment with supplemental aides and services is always our objective. 

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